Father Lazarus, Coptic Monk in Egypt

Update:  I found the entire program with Father Lazarus online, here it is in full:

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1771145&dest=-1]

Updated: Feb.14.2009

I just finished watching BBC’s “Extreme Pilgrim” program hosted by Pete Owen-Jones, a vicar of a parish in Sussex, England. The three part documentary follows Owen-Jones on his search for meaning through extreme ascetic practices of several religions, including Zen Buddhism, Kung Fu, Hinduism, and Christianity.

Father Lazarus (National Geographic Magazine)

Father Lazarus (National Geographic Magazine)

The first two parts were very interesting. However it was the last part about Christianity that fascinated me the most. It deals with Owen-Jones travels through the desert to St. Antony’s Monastery in Egypt. It is the oldest Christian monastery in the world.

After spending some time at the monastery, Owen-Jones decides to meet the hermit monk up in the mountains. His name is Father Lazarus, and he has been living there in solitude and penance for several years. He is a very intriguing figure.

I don’t know how much of this is true but from what I could gather on-line and from watching the episode is that Father Lazarus was born in Tasmania, and spent about forty-years of his life living as an atheist and a professor by trade. He was very attached to his mother, and after she was diagnosed with cancer and died a very painful death, he became very sad and depressed. His attachment to his mother, which seems a bit too extreme, led him to pray to the Virgin Mary.

Apparently someone had told him that the Virgin Mary can become his holy Mother. He spent many days praying to her, and became convinced that he wanted to be a monk and live a life of penance.

He abandoned his life in Australia and went in search for God and peace. He eventually met the Pope Shenouda III, the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who told him to become the monk he is today.

Father Lazarus has appeared on two television series: “Extreme Pilgrim” and “Globe Trekker: Egypt.” He is always gracious, and he seems to be very much at peace.

He spends his days praying. He awakes sometime around 5:30am, prays at 6am, then at 9am, and then again at noon. He spends the days working construction, building steps, and sowing clothing for his brother monks at the Monastery below. Once a week he treks back down to the monastery to eat, and apparently he has a very large meal because his existence on the mountain is very meager. There is no food and no vegetation up on the mountain, only lizards and winds and howling fierce mountain dogs.

He is in a constant state of penance, and always praying in the traditional Christian method, in which the whole body must be lowered, in the fashion of Islam. He is a very interesting figure. When I go to Egypt I wish to meet him.

Check out this trailer for the third part of Extreme Pilgrim:

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~ by alexmalina on February 7, 2009.

12 Responses to “Father Lazarus, Coptic Monk in Egypt”

  1. Thank you very much! I would really love to see this. Do you know if/when it will be replayed. I am located in the U.S. Is it available anywhere on the for sale or on the web?

    • Dear Nader,

      I would suggest going to the Globe Trekker website and ordering the Egypt series: http://www.globetrekkerstore.com/dvdsegypt.html. You could also search your local library for this DVD, because I know it might be considered Educational.

      For Extreme Pilgrim on BBC, I would suggest ordering the DVD as well, as I couldn’t find it online anywhere. Unless you search rapidlibrary.com, they might have it, but again, your risking it.

      Here’s the link for Extreme Pilgrim:

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/misc/extremepilgrim.shtml

      I don’t know if they have a DVD out on this one. I do know that if you are in England, you can watch it for free on their website, but it doesn’t work here for me in the States.

      I hope I was helpful to you. Please let me know if you find any information on Father Lazarus other then this, as I am very intrigued by the man who has chosen such a barren lifestyle.

      Kind Regards,
      Alex

  2. Good to see you here Alex… You are a blessing… Dr. of Love…

  3. i have a link that leads to an Coptic Orthodox Book called “Practical Spirituality according to the desert fathers by Father Athanasius Iskander”..http://www.stmaryscopticorthodox.ca/content/books/spirituality.pdf and the review of the book is on this site>> http://www.stshenoudamonastery.org.au/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3 You will very much love this book.If you are looking for anything more, i am glad to help. May the Peace and Love of God be with you.

  4. Thank you for having this kept as its a joy to watch again.I often think about Father Lazarus and “the meaning of Life”.I feel at peace again now and that’s a good thing.Cheers to you…David

  5. I met Lazarus in 2003 when I was a student in Egypt. He’s a great guy 🙂 I tried to see him again about 6 months ago, but he wasn’t at his cave.

    -Nate
    nathan.michael.griggs@gmail.com

  6. So great to find out more about the beautiful Father Lazarus, whom I first encountered when Extreme Pilgrim was initially shown on the BBC. Really good to be able to see it again and hear again those words of wisdom – and very useful for my studies on the Desert Fathers – I don’t think much has changed since St. Anthony’s time!

  7. Just letting it be known if people are interested in a more intimate documentary on Father Lazarus, you can find two awesome clips on YouTube called The Last Anchorite (parts 1&2):

  8. Thank you for posting the Fr.Lazarus piece, I recall seeing this programme when it was first aired.
    I have recently become more interested in spirituality and finding out about myself, this programme came to mind and I could not recall the name of it but googled coptic Christian Documentary and I was led here.
    I like the title of your blog but I wonder do you see the irony?
    Thanks again.

  9. Hi… greetings from Indonesia, thanks for all. Father Lazarus really inspiring. Great humbleness and devotion! I will never forget this…

  10. would like to visit st anthony monastery in egypt. what arrangements to i need?

  11. God bless you

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